8th February – 14th March 2020
Anna Schwartz Gallery
Taking its title from the old English word for geometry (eorõcræft), Earthcraft 2020 is a new installation by Melbourne based artist Mikala Dwyer.
Typical of Dwyer’s large-scale works, Earthcraft 2020 is a parade of static elements, drawn from the artist’s expansive visual vocabulary developed throughout her career. Here, ten separate sculptural elements are suspended from the gallery’s ceiling. Recurring motifs are conflated with various points of reference that relate to the exhibition’s title as well as other sources, so that each element contains its own narrative, as well as a link to the others.
For example, the hovering apple and plumb bob might both refer to the idea that general relativity describes gravity as a byproduct of the geometry of spacetime, or they might point to revolutionary figures such as Isaac Newton and Eve. The banners that book-end the installation contain distinct yet coded symbolic imagery that could derive from an ancient language, or could otherwise refer to an historical period of design.
Other elements typical to Dwyer’s practice are found in the ‘empty sculpture’ – a heat formed transparent plastic shape, moulded by hand, that is simultaneously object and void, as well as the cluster of objects (mostly heads) hanging from a chain, that expand Dwyer’s longstanding relationship with jewellery as sculpture. In these works, Dwyer takes personal, intimate objects and scales them up as suspended or free-standing sculptures, such as with Hollowwork (2013) that was based on her mother’s ring, Gertrude (2019) that was based on Gertrude Herzger-Seligmann’s Southern Cross Brooch (c. 1960), and her ongoing ‘necklace’ works.
The stainless steel forms appear to approach geometry in a direct way, although equally contain ambiguities that provoke more complex relationships. The Möbius strip, in particular, has the mathematical property of being un-orientable. Additionally, the highly reflective surfaces implicate the audience as incidental performers in the work, which is another common aspect of the artist’s approach. Dwyer often incorporates live performers to enact fantastic ritual performances, where figures will even ‘wear’ the work. In the case of the stainless steel forms, the reflected audience is highly distorted.
Earthcraft 2020 is an immersive environment drawn from Dwyer’s eclectic interests including mysticism, occult- ism, costume, history, film and science fiction. The curious collection of geometric forms and symbols remains deliberately elusive, a story rooted in both reality and fiction.